Saturday, June 24, 2017

Little things to make your grad student or adjunct hovel feel like a home

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I thought I'd take a weekend break from beauty posts for something a little different. I'm so not a lifestyle blogger, and I really couldn't be, because there's nothing aspirational about my lifestyle. That kind of comes with the territory when you get a Ph.D., especially in the humanities, these days. It's been three years since I got my degree, and I still don't have a permanent job, which is unfortunately not an unusual position to be in. I'm not saying that I wouldn't have gone to grad school if I'd known, necessarily, but the uncertainty has been a source of intense anxiety and stress for the past few years. (Besides, I started my Ph.D. program in 2007, before things became quite so dire, so I couldn't have known.)

I'm lucky enough to make enough money for everything I need, but I don't have extra money for things like new, coordinating furniture. Most things in my apartment were either free or the cheapest items available at Target or Ikea at the time, and as a result I have a hodgepodge of colors and finishes and styles. Let's just call it eclectic. What's more, I have moved every year for the past four years, and I'll be moving again this summer, so there's never much sense trying to find furniture to fit my apartment du jour, even if I had the resources to do so. It's fine--I don't need a fancy house--but I am someone who is pretty affected by my environment, and I find it easier to relax and to get things done if the space I'm in is visually (and otherwise) pleasant. As a result, I've collected some things over the years that make my home, if nothing else, a place I don't hate to be in. None of these are earth-shatteringly unique, but I'm hoping that maybe someone else here will find something to make their lives a tiny bit more materially comfortable too.

Framed Posters, Prints, or Maps



I like to have lots of things to hang on my walls since I tend to move from apartment to apartment every year or so. Because I know I'm going to again soon, I can't be bothered to paint my walls, and so I need to cover as much of the depressing, standard-rental off-white as possible. Posters are cheap, and they always look better in a frame. One of my favorite posters is the Polish Cleopatra poster above, but I can't find it for sale anywhere at the moment, though I got it a few years ago from Movie Poster Shop. (Amazon has lots of other great Cleopatra posters, fyi.) I also have a poster for the movie Cat People, which I've never seen, but it seemed appropriate.

I've bought cheap, plain black frames both from Ikea (cheapest) and from Amazon.

Another source of art in my apartment is a book of historic maps of Rome, which you can see in the first photo in this post. The pages in these books are designed to be removed and framed, and they include both maps and other images like etchings and vintage travel posters. You can get a books for a bunch of major cities: Paris, Chicago, San Francisco, etc.

Also, obviously, hanging your art using 3M Command Strips is the easiest way to make sure you can get everything to hang straight and (usually) not damage your rental walls in the process.

Good Sheets and Towels

It's not only a good idea to have things that look nice, it also helps me to have things that feel nice. We were lucky enough to get an amazing new mattress as a wedding gift from my mother-in-law, and I think that's the thing I'll miss the most during the next year when we move into a couple of furnished places temporarily. But even when we had a shitty Ikea bed, having decent sheets made it a lot more pleasant to sleep in. My sister got me hooked on these bamboo sheets (here's another set from Amazon) that breathe really well and just get softer and softer the more you use them.

Thick, soft towels are another luxury that's surprisingly affordable. My favorites are the Ralph Lauren brand--the big bath towel is usually about $15.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Can I Wear Brown Lipstick?

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L.A. Girl Matte Lipstick in Snuggle, NudeStix Magnetic Matte in Greystone, and Maybelline ColorSensational Maple Kiss
We've been in the midst of a 90s retro revival (sometimes 70s-via-90s) in fashion and beauty for a few years now, for better or for worse. The rule I've heard a lot about wearing throwback trends is that if you wore it the first time around, you shouldn't wear it when it comes back. That rings pretty true to me, I suppose, but then that's probably because the things I wore as a teenager aren't exactly coming back as styles that suit suit my 35-year-old self. Not that I am advocating some amorphous age-appropriateness rule here. I'm just saying that the things I wore as a teenager are not things that I want to wear as an adult. If you'd like to borrow my wide-leg carpenter khakis or my gold cross chokers or my white eyeliner, they are probably still stored away somewhere in my parents' attic. I think, however, that if you follow that trend rule too strictly, you can end up stuck in a rut because you avoid updating your look at all for fear of looking ridiculous. I'm trying to find my place in the space between.

So while not long ago the thought of reviving trends from my high school years would have brought to mind this, of which I long ago cycled past acceptance and into rejection:

I just watched Buffy again earlier this year, and her makeup is usually much better than this.
I'm now used to seeing similar colors and textures made modern and fresh and appealing. (I'm also super into the shimmery and metallic lipsticks we're getting after years of matte everything--more on that another time!) I used to think that I just can't do brown lipsticks (witness my lack of success with the Bite Beauty Multisticks). Part of the problem is that brown lipsticks, perhaps more than most colors other than red, are finnicky, and you might have to try a whole bunch of options before you find the one that's right for you. When I decided to try the whole brown lipstick thing again, I remembered that I had one stuck in a reject drawer: Maybelline Maple Kiss. Hooray for hoarding! When I tried on Maple Kiss again (see below), my first thought was, "Wow, this actually looks great!" My second thought was, "Wait, am I just being brainwashed by trends?" But on further reflection, I don't think that's exactly what's happening. In 2014, you would be hard pressed to find warm brown lipsticks being presented in an updated, attractive way. In 2017, those images are everywhere.

If you've watched TV in the last six months or so, you've seen this. For example, Jess from New Girl, who typically wore reddish or rosy lipsticks in the past shifted to a more orangey-brown family in the last season.

Peach? Sienna? Terracotta? Clay? Whatever.
The more exposure we have to new things presented in aesthetically pleasing ways, the more we can come to appreciate them as beautiful. (If you are trying to work on body acceptance, it can work in a similar way. The more beautiful images of bodies of all shapes and sizes you're exposed to, the more you'll train yourself to find them attractive--or you'll suddenly realize it's happened without any effort.)

Brown has been happening for a while, but I largely avoided the corpsey greige lips of the last few years, while admiring them, because they felt like too much of a high-maintenance statement look for my preferences. I have a handful of brownish lipsticks at this point, but I'm looking at three of them here that represent different takes on the latest version of the look, which I think are both current and easily wearable. This is my personal test of whether or not I want to wear brown lipstick (spoiler: yes), and if so, what version I like best.

Swatches of L.A. Girl Matte Lipstick in Snuggle, NudeStix Magnetic Matte in Greystone, and Maybelline ColorSensational Maple Kiss
Swatches of L.A. Girl Matte Lipstick in Snuggle, NudeStix Magnetic Matte in Greystone, and Maybelline ColorSensational Maple Kiss
The three lipsticks pictured above fall into three categories: brownish nude, true brown, and warm/terracotta brown.

I'll start with my nude, LA Girl Snuggle, a semi-opaque, fairly matte, comfortable, cheap, rosy brown-nude.

Now, before you fight me, I'm calling this a nude even though it's nowhere near my skin color, true. But it's the best descriptor I can come up with--neutral is too vague (all browns are somewhat neutral), and it's not MLBB ("my lips but better") because it's much browner and more muted than my naturally pink lips. As you can see in the photo below, it looks subtle and understated on me, and so I'm comfortable calling it a nude.

This is probably the easiest and most classic version of a brown lipstick you can get. Take your natural lip shade and shift it a few steps closer to brown. It's not a statement lipstick, and you can wear it to your conservative workplace without anyone commenting. It's also not so trendy that it's going to look dated before you use up the whole bullet. I like how easy this look is, but it's not exciting.

(Please excuse the somewhat uninspiring photos below, which I took in my bathroom. There isn't a great spot for photos in my apartment, but at least I'm moving soon. I hope you can get a sense of the overall effect anyway.)

I'm not actually mad at this lipstick.
Next I'm trying a bolder, darker, true brown option: NudeStix Greystone (note that while Sephora inexplicably calls this color "greige," it is neither beige nor grey--it's a neutral medium brown, if anything leaning warm). I got this lip crayon in last month's Sephora Play! box (reviewed here). This is definitely a more modern look and, on me with my fairly muted features, a much bolder statement. For some people this might fall into the nude category and you'll have to go significantly lighter or darker to get more impact. While I like this lipstick on me more each time I wear it, I don't love it. It just doesn't feel like me.

The wrong kind of witchy?
And finally, the most trendy-but-still-wearable shade, a warm rusty or terracotta brown. Here's where Maybelline Maple Kiss fits in (which, by the way, Amazon has on sale for $2 with a coupon right now). My red hair suits it particularly well, but I've seen similar colors with a variety of hair and skin colors. If you have really cool-toned skin, you might want to try something rosier, maybe a pink-peach--your coloring might enhance the orange-brown in it without it clashing with your skin. (If you have cool skin and have tried warm brown lipsticks, I'm interested to hear what does and doesn't work for you!)

This is my favorite of the three options, so much so that since taking this photo I've bought two other variations on the theme (enough!!): Urban Decay Epigram and Colourpop Blotted Lip in Candyfloss. They're a bit closer to what Zooey Deschanel is wearing above, and I like them even better. I'll put them in my review queue.


Just as a point of comparison, here's Maple Kiss swatched next to Maybelline Touch of Spice, since TOS can look slightly brownish in some contexts.

Swatches of Maybelline Maple Kiss and Maybelline Touch of Spice
Swatches of Maybelline Maple Kiss and Maybelline Touch of Spice
I can tell that between my three warm brown lipsticks, this is going to be my summer lip color. Other lipsticks are already being neglected. This type of brown is really easy for me to wear with my coloring, and it looks current without being gimmicky, which is generally what I'm going for.

Are there any colors or makeup looks that are particularly speaking to you this summer? Do you change your makeup seasonally? And do you tend to follow trends or ignore them? I'm curious how other people approach these topics!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sales on MAC, Paula's Choice, Bareminerals, etc.

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Hautelook is interesting in that you can find new brands popping up now and then. MAC is the latest, though just the lip pencils and Huggable lipsticks are available, marked down 48%. I've heard good things about the Huggables--can anyone confirm? (Also, it seems like MAC is suddenly appearing in a bunch of new places like Ulta and Birchbox. A sign of declining sales maybe?) Hautelook also has Butter London (YOU SHOULD GET TWO FINGERED SALUTE!), Kate Somerville, and some other brands on sale if you want to make your shipping (~$6) go further.

Paula's Choice has 20% off plus free shipping this week, which I think is about as big a sale as they offer. No code needed. (You can also get $10 off using my referral link if you're a new customer, and see my various Paula's Choice reviews here.) You can get an extra 10% cash back from Ebates, too, which is pretty great.

Today is the last day of the Bareminerals Friends & Family Sale, which also gives you 20% plus free shipping (no code needed). Also offering that extra 10% off through Ebates. The eyeshadow duo in "The Epiphany", for $12, includes the shade A-ha, which is a gorgeous shade that's similar to Maybelline Bad to the Bronze (swatched here), but in powder form.

Most of the Sephora sales I mentioned last week are still going on too.

Anything I missed?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sephora Play! May Review

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Sephora Play! May Review

I've had a Sephora Play! sample subscription for three months now, so I think it's time to post a quick review. I liked the selection I received in May, my most recent box, quite a lot. The first two months, however, left me with some doubts. I was convinced to keep it going for another month, and I hope this is the beginning of a positive trend. You can see my March bag here (which was just ok) and my April bag here (which I found really boring). I do like this subscription so far more than I liked Birchbox, particularly at the end of my year of that subscription. The sizes of the samples here are generous, and if you're judging by the prices of the full-size versions, you're certainly getting your $10 worth. (You can decide for yourself if you think those prices are reasonable.) No hotel toiletries!!!

The theme of May's box was The Rising Stars, which may explain why I enjoyed it so much. It contains some brands that I'd heard of, and some that I hadn't, but nothing here that I'd tried before. I haven't used every sample in this box yet, but I'll give you my thoughts on those that I have. Here's what I got:

Grande Lips Hydrating Lip Plumper: Full size $27. This seems to be a sort of lip serum that does the usual thing that lip plumpers do, i.e. irritate your lips so that they swell up a bit. I haven't tried it, and I'm not sure that I will, because products like this tend to make my lips worse in the long run. Have any of you used this one? If I try it, will I regret it?

Maison Margiela Replica Beach Walk Eau de Toilette: Full size $126. I'd been wanting to try one of the Replica fragrances. This stuff smells really interesting when I first apply it, but it dries down to a one-note coconut sunscreen scent on me, unfortunately.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt: Full size $53. This is a shampoo with salt in it. I've used it two or three times so far, and I have at least that many uses left, so the sample is a great size. It smells fantastic and works well to clean the build up from dry shampoo from my scalp. My hair feels a little rough when I rinse it out, just like it feels after it's been in salt water. Conditioner fixes the texture just fine. But instead of buying this scrub, I'd suggest just mixing a lot of salt into your regular shampoo.

Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Color in Greystone: Full size $24. Sephora calls this "greige" for some reason. You can see from the swatch below that it is in no way either grey or beige. It's a dark, neutral brown. It's not a particularly great color for me, but I applaud Sephora for including a more adventurous option than the typical red or nude. The formula is light and comfortable.

Sephora Play! May Swatches

Tréstique Highlight & Perfect Multipurpose Stick: Full size $34. I haven't used this highlighter stick on my face yet, but it feels similar in texture to Benefit Watt's Up. I swatched them together below. If Watt's Up is too warm or dark for you, you might prefer this (though there are a million cheaper ways to highlight).

Swatches of Tréstique Highlight & Perfect Multipurpose Stick and Benefit Watt's Up
Left: Tréstique. Right: Benefit.
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser: Full size $45. I've been curious about Sunday Riley, because it gets all the hype. I would have been more excited to try something other than a cleanser, but hey. Particularly since this cleanser warns that it shouldn't be used around the eyes, and I have oily eyelids, so I need to be able to use my cleanser near my eyes. I have seen this cleanser on Instagram a lot, so it seems to be popular, but I haven't tried it yet. I tend to save cleanser minis for travel.

All in all, May was an interesting month. I should get my June bag before too long, so fingers crossed for another winner!

Monday, June 5, 2017

My Cheap Favorites: the best bath, body, and hair products for $10 and under

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It's been over a year since I wrote my last cheap favorites master post! I still stand by my choices there, and I don't think I'd change any of them now if I had to do it over. I've had in mind to write this additional post all along, but since I'm admittedly not that picky about products in this category, it hasn't felt so pressing. Still, maybe there's something here for you to discover (or something you can suggest to me!).


Tree Hut Almond and Honey Body Wash

Favorite Body Washes: I don't really take baths, so all I've got here are shower products. My criteria for a good body wash or shower gel are simple: gets me clean, doesn't dry out my skin, smells good. There are lots of affordable options that check all of those boxes. I love almond fragrance when it's done well, and Tree Hut Almond and Honey Body Wash does it well. It's also very moisturizing and has a lovely texture. Luxurious, even. I like this so much that I haven't tried any of the other scents, though I suppose I should. The Almond variety is a bit difficult to find in stores. I got this one at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $6.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sephora Sales

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While I work on taking photos for my next post,  I thought I'd point out that Sephora has a ton of stuff on sale right now.

The Urban Decay Basquiat collection has been marked down. Maybe you felt icky about the whole thing, but you feel better buying it on sale? Because you're not encouraging that kind of behavior? (Am I talking to myself?)

All of the Esteé Edit line is there, and I'm guessing it's being discontinued, so if you actually liked something, now would be the time to grab it.

A bunch of the wonderful Formula X nail polishes are back for $2 a piece. I also like the nail cleanser, though don't believe them when they say it's "non-drying." It keeps my polish on longer, but I use it sparingly.

There's also a Bite Beauty set with a metallic gloss and two of the Multisticks on sale, if you are one of the people for whom those work well (i.e. not me).

The shimmery Tarte Make Believe in Yourself palette has been marked down to $30.

And again, the Chic It Easy kit is a great deal at $25 with a full-size YSL Touche Éclat and full-size Nars Jungle Red lipstick (though I didn't enjoy the Caudalie spray, personally).

As always, if you place more than two orders from Sephora a year, it's worthwhile to get the Flash Shipping, so you can avoid paying for shipping after that. And you can get another 4% back from Ebates.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Empties and discards

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I'm not sure what I want to review next, so how about a good, old fashioned empties post. Everyone likes to look at photos of trash, right?

Since I'm going to be making a cross-country move in a few months, I've been gradually weeding out my excess stuff (not limited to, but including, beauty products). As a result I've divided this post into two parts: actual empties and things that aren't finished but that I'm throwing out anyway. I also filled two boxes with products that are still good and will be passed on to someone else, but since they aren't garbage, they aren't in this garbage post.

I haven't been keeping bath and body products or foil packets, so the photo above doesn't include absolutely everything I've used up since my last empties post, but hey, close enough. I'll start at the top left of the photo above and go through these things row by row as briefly as possible, linking to previous reviews when they're available to avoid repetition.

CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream: Mini- review here. I wouldn't buy this again, though if you like their other lotions, you might like this.

CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patches: Reviewed here. I love these, and I have 3.5 more packets to go through before I'll need to buy replacements.

Paula's Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer: This moisturizer is light but effective, and I enjoyed using it during the winter. I'm not sure it's special enough to be worth the high price, though.

Beauty Blender Cleanser (sample): As I said here, this is just castile soap, which you can get much cheaper elsewhere.

Moroccan Oil (sample): My sister gave me this little bottle when I lamented my hair's dry frizziness this past winter. It worked well enough, though it didn't help me get a comb through my wet hair. Plus I realized that it was a different product causing the problems, rather than a lack of product (see discards discussion below for more on this).

Korres Bergamot Pear Hand Cream: It smelled neither like bergamot nor pear (more like a generic floral-apple scent) and wasn't particularly effective when my hands were really dry during the winter. I wouldn't buy it again.

Bioré Aqua Rich Watery Gel Sunscreen: Reviewed here. It's good stuff, and I would consider buying it again, though I don't love all the fragrance and alcohol. Still, I've been thinking about trying the Watery Essence version.

Paula's Choice Skin Firming Line Minimizer: This stuff took me forever to finish, and I never noticed any improvements to my skin. Plus the packaging is ridiculous.

Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum: Reviewed here. I absolutely love this serum during the winter, but during the humid summer months the humectant properties are too much for my oily-combination skin. I'm glad I finished it by spring, and I'm sure I'll buy another one the next time I face a long, cold, dry winter.

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid (travel size): Reviewed here. This exfoliant is a staple in my skincare routine all year 'round. I use it most mornings. When I stray from it, I notice my pores reverting to their natural clogged state and my skin getting duller fairly quickly. I'm on a regular sized bottle now. (Remember when a bottle of this stuff cost about $20? Sigh.)

Wet N Wild Fergie Take On The Day Eyeshadow Primer: Reviewed here, and now sadly discontinued. No, the new Wet N Wild primer is not identical. I'm using my Black Radiance eyeshadow primer now.

Lancôme Cils Booster XL Mascara Primer (sample): Reviewed here. Wouldn't buy it.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light (sample): Of the ALPs I tried from So Choix, I liked Dim Light and Luminous Light best. I've read some reviews of Dim Light that say it's too dark for certain people's complexions, but I didn't notice any color at all showing up on my pale skin. Maybe it's different for people with different undertones than mine, or maybe my sample was made up from a particularly light part of the powder.

Ojon Rare Blend Hair Oil (sample): Not especially memorable. Make sure you shake it, because it has three layers, and the top one is all heavy oil. Trust me, it doesn't look pretty in your hair on its own.

Beauty Blender: I cut it in half to see what was inside! I like the Beauty Blender, but I'm using a cheaper alternative now.

Avon lipstick: The label is long gone. This was a sheer, iridescent red lipstick, and it was one of the oldest makeup products I had. It was finished years ago, and I think I kept it around because I wanted to find something similar, but I'm not really attached to it anymore.

Paula's Choice Endless Lash Mascara: This mascara isn't great, but I ran out of mascara, and I had a credit, so mediocre free mascara seemed better than good cheap mascara at the time. I definitely don't recommend paying the excessively high price they charge for this stuff. In general, Paula's Choice makeup is blah.

Epionce Lyctic Tx (sample): This is basically a BHA serum. It smells like lavender and wasn't nearly as effective as the Paula's Choice BHA liquid. I certainly wouldn't spend $54 for this stuff.

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara (sample): Sort of reviewed here. I've finally used up my last Perversion sample! Though these things seem to self-replicate almost as endlessly as Smashbox primer samples, so I'm sure another one will pop up before long.

And here are the things that I threw out without finishing:


Vidal Sassoon Spray Heat Protect & Shine: I think I got this from Influenster a couple of years ago. I started to blow my hair a bit more often this winter, and I remembered I had this stuff, so I thought I might as well try to protect my hair from heat damage. I can always use some more shine, too. It wasn't until after months of using this spray, as my hair was getting drier and rougher, that I bothered to look at the ingredients and saw that it's mostly alcohol. No wonder! READ THE INGREDIENTS, FOLKS!

MUA Dusk Til Dawn Palette: Reviewed here. I depotted the shades that were most interesting and the rest can go. (There is a pan of some red lipstick sample I got from So Choix stuck in there too, but I forget what it was. Something I didn't like!)

Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush: Reviewed here. I was never a big fan of the color or the formula, and now it's old and I used it only a few times.

Revlon Lip Butters in Candy Apple and Lollipop: Reviewed hereLollipop was one of the first bright pink lipsticks I ever had, but I soon moved on to other things. These two had started to smell a little off, so it was time to say goodbye. And these two mark the last of the too many lip butters I once hoarded.

e.l.f. Essential Lipsticks in Posh and Voodoo: Reviewed here. These were good lipsticks when I didn't like lipstick, but now I like lipstick and I'm not so into these lipsticks anymore. (lipstick lipstick lipstick.) Plus, again, very old.

Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Recursion (sample): Reviewed here. It's paraben free, so it got funky faster than your average lip product.

Life's Entropy Yellow Foundation Mixer (sample): Reviewed here. See above.

Cynthia Rowley something-or-other lip sample from Birchbox: Old. Funky.

TheBalm Stainiac: I actually love this lip stain, and it still seemed fine, but . . . though I'm not a stickler for use-by dates on makeup, this was so ancient that I was getting weirded out. I certainly got my money's worth, though, because I used it ONE MILLION times. I'll probably replace it once I use up a few other lip products.

NYX Concealer in Green: Sort of reviewed here. Old. Don't like.

Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Eye Cream: First of all, it's a gel, not a cream. Second of all, it has a lot of alcohol in it, which I could maybe forgive if it were beneficial in some other way, but it wasn't. I used it for about a month and then tossed it. Eye "creams" are mostly bullshit, anyway, right? (Though I admit I've been intrigued by The Ordinary caffeine serum, because I've read reviews that say it actually improves dark circles.)

Lancôme Juicy Shaker and YSL Tint-in-Oil: Samples from So Choix. Meh.

That's it! If I've learned anything from this batch of discards, I supposed it's always to read the ingredients (which I should have known already), and not to collect all the colors of a lip product just because you like one of them, which is pretty much what happened with the Revlon Lip Butters and e.l.f. lipsticks. I have no doubt I will continue to repeat those mistakes in the future. Stay tuned!

I'm curious: do you try to finish up a product even if you don't like it, or are you fine with just throwing it away if it's too old or too shitty to give to someone else?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pros and Cons: Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 Sunscreen

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Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 Sunscreen Review

I finally finished my bottle of Biore Watery Gel sunscreen (reviewed here), and since I thought my favorite sunscreen had been discontinued, I had to decide what to use next. (As it turns out, Kinesys is back, and for now can be purchased on their website: US/Canada. I haven't ordered anything yet, but I'll post more when I've got my hands on some of their sunscreen again.) The Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 Sunscreen is a holy grail for a lot of people, so I decided to use a credit to try out a tube of it for myself.

After using it for several weeks, I have mixed feelings. What I like about it, I really like; what I don't like is kind of a deal-breaker. So I think it makes sense to write this review as a basic pros/cons list.

PROS:

  • Ingredients: The sunscreen in this product is zinc oxide, which is reliable, stable, and good for most sensitive skin. It also contains some other potentially beneficial skincare ingredients like antioxidants.
  • Texture: It's not too thin and not too thick. It's easy to apply an even layer on my face, and it really does feel like there's nothing on my skin after a few short minutes. It's supposed to be a "moisturizer + SPF," but if it's moisturizing, the results are very subtle. I don't mind that. It is meant for combination or oily skin, after all.

Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 Sunscreen Review

  • Finish: Zinc oxide can leave a white cast on the skin, so this lotion is lightly tinted to counteract that. It leaves my skin matte and adds a tiny bit of sheer coverage. It also works very well under makeup, a lot like a primer. It provides a bit of oil control and keeps my makeup in place longer.

Here are some frowny before and after photos. In the first photo I have nothing on my face. In the second photo, I have just the Paula's Choice Resist SPF 30. You can see that the tint is very, very sheer, but if you look at the freckles under my eyes, for instance, they are less visible in the second photo. (Also if you ever doubted how invisible my eyelashes are, here you go. This is the nakedest face I've ever published on my blog.)


CONS:

  • Price: This is a $33 sunscreen. The tube contains 2 oz./60 ml, which for daily facial use would probably last around 6 months, I'm guessing. So if this is the perfect sunscreen for you, I can see $66 a year or so being worthwhile. It's better to buy something you love and actually wear it everyday than to buy something cheap that you hate and avoid applying sunscreen at all. For me, it's way too expensive when I factor in the issues described below.
  • Smell: This is the biggest problem for me. It's really a YMMV situation, because most reviews I've read say that this sunscreen has no scent at all. I've only found one other person who noticed the smell I'm talking about here. When I apply this sunscreen, there's no really noticeable scent, at least nothing that bothers me. When I step outside, however, I get a big whiff of something strange, almost like burnt plastic or latex with a sour note. I can smell it for as long as I remain outside, but when I go back in, it's gone. Even when I go out to head home at the end of the work day, hours and hours after I first applied my sunscreen, I get the smell again. Could it be that the product is reacting to the sun somehow to release the smell? It's not the wind, because I don't smell it in a drafty indoor space. It's so odd! And very unpleasant. (I made my husband smell my face when we were outside the other day to see if I was just imagining it, and he noticed it too.)
  • Eye irritation: I have less of a problem with this particular sunscreen smearing or running into my eyes than with others I've used in the past, but I do have to be careful not to rub my eyes or the lotion will get into them and make them itch and burn.
  • Tint: I mentioned the tint as a sort of benefit above, in that it removes some of the white cast that would ordinarily be left by the zinc. The tint does, however, make this sunscreen more fussy to use than most others I've tried. I'm used to applying my facial sunscreen to my face and then bringing it down to my neck and exposed parts of my chest. More than once, while trying to do that with this stuff, I've accidentally smeared a bit of it onto the neckline of my shirt and then had to change out of an otherwise perfectly good, clean shirt. It's a hassle, when I'm in a hurry, to have to use a separate product for my neck and chest (or to have to pick out another top to wear! Ugh!!). You pretty much have to treat this stuff like makeup by, for instance, washing your hands after you apply it. Plus I have my doubts about how invisible the tint would be on people with darker skin. If you have a deep skin tone and have tried this sunscreen, I'd be interested to hear your results.
Here is it swatched on white paper, so you can see what a mess it would make if you got any on your clothing:

Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 Sunscreen Review

Personally, I don't think I will buy another tube of Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense once I've finished the one I have, even though I can understand why it's such a favorite. The texture and finish are really lovely and it plays exceptionally well with makeup. The smell is a big turnoff for me, but I'd guess you probably have a less than 5% chance of having that same problem, judging from reviews. But the smell combined with the finicky application is too much for me. I like to be able to apply my sunscreen quickly and move on. There's a reason I don't wear foundation every day, after all. 

Does this sound like a sunscreen that would work for you?

(You can get $10 off $15 from Paula's Choice when you sign up for a new account using my link--I get a credit too, which is what allowed me to review this sunscreen.)


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